• Iron & Wine @ Queens Hall

    30 oct. 2007, 10h17m

    Mon 29 Oct – Iron & Wine

    I am still not very familiar with the extensive musical work of Sam Beam a.k.a. Iron & Wine but I decided to give it a go and watch him live at the Queen's Hall, one of my favourite venues in Edinburgh.

    I was expecting intimate tones and smooth tunes, with great vocals but tinged with sadness. I was surprised by some upbeat musical arrangements and how the audience reacted to them. Not to say I was disappointed! The set up was certainly bigger than I expected, with Sam's 7 people strong entourage sporting several electric guitars, synths, slide guitar, violin, percussion, drums, bass+double bass, vibraphone and accordion. Sam itself switched guitars several times, making sure the sound remained rich and diverse between songs. And it worked well...sort of.

    My main gripe was in the way this vast assortment of sounds was managed live. The sound table work was quite questionable, with the slide guitar volume being excessive, so loud that it reverbated on the Hall's ceiling, near the gallery where I sat. Every once in a while you would wince for every more-than-slight strum of a slide guitar string...frankly it was annoying and kept distracting me from the music.
    The way the double-bass was set up was quite bizarre. It was an electric double-bass, of which I am not a big fan but that gave adequately deep tones when the player was strumming. It was a different thing altogether when he used the bow. For a while I could not pin the source of an annoying scratching sound that I could hear in the background during a couple of songs...then I realized it was the double-bass! The strings were vibrating with the action of the bow but the sound had absolutely no bass! Instead it just added higher frequency noise that made it sound like background interference...bizarre and irritating.

    In the end, I still enjoyed the concert. Sam's music is exquisite and the song lyrics are deep and meaningful. He played many songs from what is my favourite album so far (Our Endless Numbered Days). I am very fond of the vocal work and I was only sorry that he didn't play Such Great Heights or Fever Dream. It was just a shame I didn't enjoy it more because of a couple of set up blunders that shouldn't have made past the sound check.
  • An almost forgotten gem...

    22 jan. 2007, 15h14m

    A few days ago, I found an old album that I had not listened for quite a while.
    António Chainho released the album Lisboa-Rio in 2000 (Chainho is misspelled here).
    This work was the result of a collaborative effort of António with Celso Fonseca and Jaques Morelenbaum. It merged the distinctive sonority and tradition of António's Portuguese Guitar with Brazilian music. António plays songs from the classic Brazilian repertoire and a few originals with renowned brazilian artists such as Ney Matogrosso, Paulinho Moska, Virgínia Rodrigues,Jussara Silveira,Armandinho and Dominguinho. The outcome is one of the best sounding examples of the versatility of the Portuguese Guitar, usually confined to its representation of traditional Fado music.

    I definitely recommended it.

  • Jazz wonders

    9 nov. 2006, 22h29m

    After a busy day, a bit of jazz can make a lot of difference to how I finish my work and go home.

    Straight Life
    This piece by Freddie Hubbard features the trumpet man himself at his best plus excelent vamping throughout from the accompanying band. I especially like the drum solo - great stuff!

    ...and the next track was How high the moon. Couldn't have chosen a better follow-up myself :) Gotta love radio :D
  • Less is sometimes more but sometimes a lot more...

    2 nov. 2006, 10h04m

    The more I listen to Fisherman's Woman by Emiliana Torrini, the more I love its simple and mellow songs. Emiliana's soft and "smokey" voice seems perfect for this form of intimate dialogue - just her, a guitar and her stories.

    My favourites tracks are the beautiful "At Least It Was" and "Serenade".

    Emiliana Torrini
    Fisherman's Woman
    At Least It Was
  • Flavour of the Moment - Django Reinhardt

    4 mai 2006, 13h47m

    One of my personal favourites from Django's best-of album The Best of Django Reinhardt. This three-piece little gem has some cool guitar and violin solos over a foot-tapping double-bass rythm. The whole album gives the feeling that you're in one of those old romantic movies from the 50s and this song portrays that feeling very well...ingenious, playful and a delightfully uncomplicated sound.
  • Today's finding on -

    23 nov. 2005, 12h53m

    The radio "Similar artists to Kruder and Dorfmeister" continues to throw at me interesting new sounds. This latest one is from Talvin Singh, who is widely known for his hardcore Indian techno/breakbeat. This song is more divorced of his normal music medium and more into Indian folk though... A widely appreciated change of pace :)
  • Today's discovery...

    22 nov. 2005, 21h32m

    Reggae beat as a platform for some groovy solos...interesting surprise :)